This week’s photo essay is by Kristen Ng, a Chengdu-based promoter and musician who runs the offbeat touring label Kiwese, facilitates live music programming at NU SPACE Chengdu and performs electronic music as Kaishandao. She’s selected seven snaps from her recent nationwide tour with New Zealand’s The All Seeing Hand: hardcore slow train tour life.
Fish and seafood were laid out for sale in plastic containers by the roadside, while chickens pecked about in the dust beds. We’d arrived in sunny Xiamen for the inaugural Ya Festival (哑艺术节), held at a temple in the sleepy Mainland village district of Houtian. Children chased each other through winding paths. Skyscraping apartment developments loomed near. The suntanned local villagers all spoke Hokkien, a dialect completely unintelligible to Mandarin speakers. Festival organizer Dao greeted us in the square with a huge smile. He had “哑” tattooed in red across his Adam’s Apple.
Here’s a photo of artist Wu Gang performing as Jesus on the Cross next to Houtian Temple at Ya Festival. He remained tied to the cross for over three hours. The previous night, I had woken up on the floor of Gebi in a wedding dress. By the time we reached Xiamen, I was a total wreck. Note me on the right, self-medicating with a can of Rio Strong. Citrus flavored, full of nutrients.
At around 8pm, E N T was chanting occult drone poetry with a black balaclava over his head. Dao was covered in blood, having just performed improvised saxophone while his girlfriend tattooed his back (see up top). Mortified, the locals demanded a stop to the festival, citing ancestral disruption. Fair enough.
The temple had an open roof and the village had probably never experienced anything louder than a truck horn in all its hundred-year history. The All Seeing Hand isn’t exactly an easy listening band. If they performed their ritualistic live show in the temple with drums and throat singing all dressed in black, there’d be hell to pay. Just seeing the amplifiers on the altar upset the elderly villagers to no end. Jesus had since removed himself from the cross.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
TOUR TIP #6: Citrus flavored Rio Strong is not a substitute for actual fruit.
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